To begin with I acknowledge that I am no doubt a distinct minority in Bdian politics in my non-support for Barack Obama. It is no secret that almost the entire active (and most likely the general support base) of the PLP is very much pro-Obama, and it seems from my interaction with UBPers, as well as Christian’s many writings on his campaign, that a majority of the UBP are also pro-Obama. True, I have come across a handful, including at least one PLPer strangely enough, that are McCain supporters, and also some Hilary supporters.
I personally see little real difference between the two so-called Parties in the States, only two wings of one big corporate Party. Of the US Parties I am a supporter of the Socialist Party of the USA, and their Presidential campaign.
All the same, I found it necessary to comment on Mr. Obama’s speech the other day. There are a number of reasons for this. Namely, it is obvious how the UBPers will latch onto Mr. Obama’s political approach to race and attempt to echo this rhetoric in the Bdian context. Mr. Dunleavy has already begun just this, as evidenced in these two posts in regards to this speech. On the other hand I feel it is necessary to criticise those within the Party who have the mistaken (albeit in my view) perception of Mr. Obama as being something he is not, and whose support for him seems to be based more on uncritical identity politics than critical thought; much of what Mr. Obama advocates actually would lead them into even more doublethink than we currently have, an unfortunately high level as it is.
In the local context the UBP will respond willingly to Mr. Obama’s comments, just as many responded well to Mr. Cosby’s ‘Pound Cake Speech.’ In short, here is a black man saying what white people think. Of course I’m generalising here, but for the sake of argument, lets go with it. The exceptional thing of Mr. Obama’s campaign to date is his almost desparate attempt to portray himself as not black. The fact that he is black is taken for granted, and many in the African-American community have supported him more or less on this basis alone (I am basing this on personal discussions with Bdians, and from analysing commentaries from the US). But even with 100% Black support, Mr. Obama cannot win the Presidency. In order to win he must win the White vote. In order to do this he must adopt White positions. Otherwise, he risks alienating the white vote. It may be that Mr. Obama really truly believes in these positions, I am not questioning that. But it is also true that historically these positions he is taking have only found minority support within the African-American community.
Mr. Obama’s main message on race, if one reads it and actually stops to reflect on it, is basically to say that we are still dealing with the legacy of race, but talking about it oertly is tantamount to ‘politics of division.’ He actually doesn’t suggest how to overcome these legacies. He more or less applies some meaningless rhetoric, some soothing balm, to the consciences of White America. His message is essentially the same that the UBP appears to adhere to, talking about race is divisive, its time to move on. Nothing more than meaningless feel good rhetoric. Like Mr. Cosby’s speech this gives an outlet to many White American’s thoughts, soothed by the knowledge that this message was said by a Black man first.
What impact this will have on the majority of African-American’s is interesting as well. It is possible that with the mass media trumpeting this ‘White-friendly’ speech, combined with the desire for the very real symbolic potential that Mr. Obama represents, that those views previously held only by a minority of the African-American population, will gain wider support. It is also possible, especially with the mass media also showing snippets of the apparently ‘White-offensive’ speech of Reverend Wright (which forced Mr. Obama’s reply) that many in the African-American community will stop and reflect basically along the lines of ‘wait, Rev. Wright is right when you think about it’ and result in a backlash towards Mr. Obama amongst the African-American community.
I personally found myself agreeing with much of what Reverend Wright had stated. 9/11 was largely a result of ‘chicken’s coming home to roost’ as he put it, in reference to US imperialist support of state terrorism overseas (from Apartheid South Africa, to Apartheid Isreal-Palestine, to supporting Islamofascism throughout the Middle East against progressive leftist forces, to propping up dictators – like Saddam – during the Cold War, to funding, organising, training and facilitating Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechenya for example). The US was and continues to be what Martin Luther King Jr. described as ‘a democracy for the White and the rich, and a dictatorship for the Black and the poor.’
Of course, speaking truth to power, especially in a plutocracy such as the US with its electoral system essentially rigged to favour establishment candidates, is a sure fire way not to get elected. So I can completely understand why Mr. Obama says what he says, and I also have the belief that he often even believes most of the rhetoric he says, or wrote in his Audacity of Hope.